To our USC Jewish community and supporters,
I want to thank all of you who have reached out to express your concerns about recent antisemitic and anti-Zionist posts on social media. These hateful comments have challenged USC’s reputation as a supportive and welcoming environment for our Jewish community, and highlighted the need for us to bolster the ways in which we support Jewish life on campus.
USC has a long history as a campus with a vibrant Jewish community; however, a recent national survey by ADL-Hillel shows a rise in antisemitism across college campuses nationwide. USC is not immune, and we are taking specific new actions to systematically and operationally combat antisemitism on our campuses.
These steps are a direct outcome of listening to and learning from leaders and members of the Jewish community on campus, including USC Hillel and Chabad at USC, as well as the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Federation, the American Jewish Committee, the USC Shoah Foundation, the USC Casden Institute, and many others. They include:
- Creating a new Advisory Committee on Jewish Life at USC made up of students, faculty, staff, and community members. This Advisory Committee, which will be holding its first meeting later this month, will review a number of proposed actions to tangibly support Jewish and Zionist students, faculty, and staff. These include launching a campus climate survey to gather additional data on religious identification and discrimination within our campus community. Additionally, this committee, along with the Academic Senate, will help us identify a university-wide position that demonstrates our commitment to fighting antisemitism in all its forms. This work will include a review of the numerous statements, definitions, petitions, and declarations the university has been asked to sign, and develop a process for evaluating them.
- Ensuring Jewish representation and inclusion in our university-wide Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts, and supplementing our bias and harassment training protocol for all students, faculty, and staff to include antisemitism.
- Establishing a clearly articulated, student-focused campus pledge to act in accordance with our community principles and unifying values. This will help encourage civil discourse among our students on our campuses and on social media.
Later this year, I look forward to representing USC at a national summit on antisemitism in higher education, hosted by Hillel International, the American Jewish Committee, and the American Council on Education. The goal of this summit is to foster collaboration with college and university leaders to address this important societal issue facing campuses across the country.
Our Jewish students, faculty, and staff are more positive and engaged than ever. Through these efforts, we are continuing to strengthen USC’s commitment to our Jewish students. I am also sending this letter to our Trustees and university leadership, and sharing it with our entire USC community through our Addressing Antisemitism webpage, which also includes all of our recent communications condemning antisemitism. It has no place at USC.
Carol L. Folt